What People Think Freelancing Looks Like vs. What it Actually Looks Like

By Amanda Walgrove September 6th, 2018

Despite the fact that 57 million Americans (36 percent of the US workforce) are freelancing and contributing $1.4 trillion to the economy, the life of a freelancer is still an enigma to many. Parents, friends, and clients treat you like a full-time employee when you’re juggling seven other accounts.

It’s easy to see why. Freelancing takes a range of different forms across a wide variety of industries. There’s no one way to classify it, so there’s no one way to understand it.

But I’m not here for generalizations and excuses. I’m here on a personal mission to set the record straight once and for all. I’m here to prove that what people think freelancers do all day is rosy fiction, with just one exception: We do, in fact, wear pajamas all day.

What people think freelancing looks like

6:00 a.m. Hit my alarm. Just kidding! I don’t set an alarm because I’m a freelancer.

10:37 a.m. Roll out of bed into my second, comfier bed and browse the internet for an hour or three.

1:37 p.m. Meet my jobless friends for brunch like it’s a damn Sunday out here (it’s actually Monday out here).

1:40 p.m. Listen to my friends tell me I’m “so lucky” I get to make my own schedule. Brush it off, but know they’re right because I work for 20 minutes each day and spend the rest of it brunching and browsing the Internet.

1:41 p.m. Tell my friends I’m the lucky one—lucky this economy is so horrible I have unemployed friends to do brunch with on Mondays.

3:00 p.m. Decompress from brunch. Do cold yoga.

4:23 p.m. Find a new show on Netflix. Watch the first five episodes real quick. Descend down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about whatever true crime story was optioned for this show.

6:30 p.m. Answer an email. Whew.

6:31 p.m. Finish my Netflix murder show. Double check my locks.

8:30 p.m. Talk to my mom and confirm her suspicions that I don’t have a real job but am doing fine. She’s happy to hear about the locks.

8:42 p.m. Start and complete three new Netflix series.

2:06 a.m. Magically do enough work in 20 minutes to pay for my apartment, bills, groceries, cold yoga classes, and daily brunches. All while the rest of the world is sleeping!

2:26 a.m. Contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy.

What freelancing actually looks like

6:00 a.m. Hit my alarm. Just kidding! I’ve yet to go to bed. I’m on deadline. Time is a flat circle.

8:00 a.m. Turn in my piece. Think about making breakfast but the emails start flooding in.

8:05 a.m. Adjust my pre-planned schedule of writing all day to incorporate all the new edits, pitches, and outlines that clients have just requested.

8:10 a.m. Prepare to interview a source at 9:00 a.m. because they’re on the other side of the country.

8:35 a.m. Email pops up. Another client wants some quick edits. Send those in before my call.

9:00 a.m. Conduct interview.

9:35 a.m. Transcribe 30-minute interview in a mere two hours. Cringe at all the different ways I say “Awesome,” “Got it,” and “Let’s see, what else?”

11:35 a.m. Think about making breakfast but then remember to check my income-tracking spreadsheet. Realize I’m a bit short this month and find some new clients to pitch.

12:35 p.m. Get ready to write!

12:36 p.m. Email pops up. One of the new clients I sought out wants to chat today. They’re ready to get rolling.

12:37 p.m. Oh god, it’s a video call.

12:38 p.m. Send pitches to current clients. Update income-tracking spreadsheet to account for pitch acceptance because I’m nothing if not optimistic.

2:00 p.m. Prepare for video interview. Look at myself in the mirror. Oh.

2:01 p.m. Brush my hair, wash my face, and put on the standard freelancer’s uniform: a button-down shirt with pajama pants.

2:30 p.m. Conduct interview. Update today’s schedule to include the pitches they want.

3:30 p.m. Get ready to write!

3:31 p.m. Friends text, asking if I want to do dinner later. Realize I haven’t had breakfast yet and am three hours behind schedule.

3:32 p.m. Shove some toast into my face.

3:45 p.m. Get ready to write!

4:00 p.m. And I actually do! I’m feeling it. This is what it’s all about. I’m a modern-day Virginia Woolf, only instead of penning modernist masterpieces about love and loss, I’m typing blog posts about Facebook ad targeting. This is the life.

6:00 p.m. Relative emails me about a “real” job I might be interested in.

6:05 p.m. Catch up on new emails. Adjust my to-do list for tomorrow. I’m a day behind where I want to be, but at least I’m making my own schedule.

7:30 p.m. Look at “TGIF” memes on Instagram and think about all the work I’m going to do this weekend.

8:30 p.m. Write some more.

11:00 p.m. Eat some leftovers while watching the first episode of the next murder show on Netflix.

12:30 a.m. He’s totally guilty. I make my feelings known on Twitter.

2:26 a.m. Contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy.

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